Running counter to conventional wisdom, Ford has been able to make some sales gains with sporty cars even as overall trends point to shift towards SUVs. According to the company, four sporty versions of its mainstream car lineup are up 45-percent in the first quarter and are attracting more affluent and younger buyers. These products include the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS and Fusion Sport.

Ford singled out its Fiesta ST, explaining that while the average buyer of that hatchback economy car is 45, those opting for the sportier version are a good 10 years younger. Focus RS buyers are 5 years younger than the 46-year-old average and Focus ST buyers average 36 years of age. Fusion Sport buyers are 45 years old to the average of 48 for all Fusions. The company also expects to have greater brand loyalty among these younger customers.

“With repeat customers making up around half of industry sales, capturing younger buyers while they still have many vehicle purchases remaining in their lives is good for business,” said Corey Holter, Ford car group marketing manager.

In addition to being younger, these enthusiast-oriented customers have higher incomes. The average Fiesta ST buyer has an annual household income of $102,000 compared to the $59,000 of the average Fiesta buyer. Ford ST and Focus RS buyers have respective annual incomes of $108,000 and $169,000.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2017

Crossovers lead deals of the month

Now that sales have retreated from record levels, even some of the hottest segments are beginning to cool off as indicated by the uptick in incentives being offered on compact crossover SUVs. Kelley Blue Book’s Top 10 Deals for May also show that there’s plenty of cash and lease deals to be had on mainstream family sedans, which continue to lag in the marketplace.

“For shoppers who want to acquire a new vehicle before Memorial Day and the summer travel season, this month’s list offers excellent deals on a variety of luxury and non-luxury models,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s  “The number one spot on the list showcases one of the best-selling compact SUVs on the market, the Nissan Rogue, and the list also includes other crossovers plus sedans and even a well-regarded minivan.”

The lease program on Nissan’s 2017 Rogue, which is one of the Japanese automaker’s best-selling models, is for a $199 per month 3-year deal with $2,399 down. That vehicle has an MSRP of $25,145 and a Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price estimate of $23,098. For those looking to buy a compact crossover SUV, the $4,000 rebate on the 2017 Ford Escape is worth a look. Two other lease deals in this segment include a $229-per-month 3-year lease on the 2017 Subaru Outback that requires a $1,729 down payment and a $279-per-month 39-month lease on the 2017 Infiniti QX30 with $2,699 down.

Hyundai and Kia both have generous incentives on their midsize offerings, the former with a rebate; the latter with a lease deal. The 2017 Hyundai Sonata is carrying a $3,350 rebate on a sticker of $22,738 and a KBB FPP of $21,290. The 2017 Kia Optima is eligible for a 3-year lease at just $189 per month with $1,999 cash up front. Among luxury sedans, Acura has a special on its 2017 TLX, which is soon to be replaced by a facelifted 2018 model. That deal is a $279 per month lease for 3 years with just $999 cash down. Rounding out the list of KBB’s Top 10 deals of the month is the recurring $4,000 rebate on the 2016 Hyundai Veloster and lease deals on the 2017 Toyota Sienna and Lexus CT200h Hybrid. The Sienna is offered for $289 per month for 3 years with $1,999 down and the CT200h is being leased for 3 years at $249 per month with $1,499 due a signing.

Toyota adjusts RAV4 pricing

Another sign of the competiveness of the compact crossover SUV market is Toyota’s recent action to adjust pricing on its 2017 RAV4. The move includes lowering the sticker by up to 5 percent while adding some value equipment packages to the lineup.

The pricing changes include $500 off on all LE models, a $925 reduction for Limited versions, an $1,195 drop on SE models and s $1,330 discount on the XLE trim. The 2017 Toyota RAV4 reduced pricing now starts at $24,410 for the LE and tops out at $32,305 on the Limited. Prices remain unchanged for the 2017 RAV4 Platinum package at $34,750 for front-drive and $36,250 for all-wheel drive. Hybrid model pricing is also unchanged. All prices exclude $960 delivery.

Also: Class of 2018 – New Cars Ready to Roll

Infiniti prices QX80, QX30

Pricing for the returning Signature Edition of the 2017 Infiniti QX80 full-size SUV will start at $67,335 for the rear-drive version, according to Nissan’s luxury division. The 4-wheel drive model starts at $70,435. Delivery is an additional $995. The package includes an exclusive high-contrast saddle tan leather interior, chrome outside rearview mirror caps and unique, dark-finish 22-inch alloy wheels. Infiniti says that if the content were priced separately, the same equipment level would cost $2,500 more.

At the other end of the luxury SUV spectrum, Infiniti has also released pricing on its 2018 QX30 compact crossover. Prices remain essentially unchanged, starting at $29,950 for the front-drive base model. Luxury trim bumps that number to $32,600, Premium models cost $35,300 and Sport versions $38,500. Luxury trim AWD models are priced at $34,400, while the Premium AWD is $37,700. Destination is $995 extra.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio opens at $41,995

The newest player in the luxury sport crossover market, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio has also been priced, with a base MSRP of $41,995. The Italian-built Stelvio is equipped with a 280-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Alfa says the vehicle is capable of 0-60 mph acceleration of 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 144 mph.

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti is upgraded to include 19-inch wheels and an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen. It starts at $43,995. All prices exclude $995 delivery. Ti Sport and Lusso (Luxury) packages are available for $2,500 extra. The former includes 20-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, 12-way power leather seating, sport steering wheel and other trim upgrades. The Lusso sticks with 19-inch wheels but offers Pieno Fiore Italian leather seats, 12-way power seats, leather-wrapped dash and upper door trim along with genuine wood accents.

The rundown  

Check out the This Week in Car Buying Podcast here.

BMW will discontinue building its 6 Series Coupe for the U.S. market, but will continue to sell the Gran Coupe and Cabriolet as it sets to launch a new 8 Series Coupe next year.

Looking to compete with the 2017 Honda HR-V and 2017 Mazda CX-3, Nissan has launched a subcompact competitor in the 2017 Rogue Sport. We drive in it this First Review.

Looking to pump up sales of the 2017 Fiat 500, FCA is offering three special appearance packages on its diminutive of its subcompact hatchback, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

In the market for a new car? Explore these useful tips on how to get the best deal:

Kelley Blue Book’s Complete Guide to Incentives

All you need to know about leasing

Which dealer services are right for you?

What to look for in your next economy car


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